Infiniti G37 luxurious GT sports coupe shows slick new skin

2008, Infiniti, G37

SILVERDALE, Wash. -- Okay, let's work it right this time: With our left mitt gripping the hand-stitched and leather-laced steering wheel, the right wrist flicks a stubby shifter stick into the bottom rung of six forward gears as one foot slips off the aluminum clutch pedal and the other one steps hard on a narrow accelerator.

That action sends a wake-up call to so many ponies clustered below the forward deck of our genuine GT-style hatchback sports coupe.

This one's keen in shape and as slick as glass, with two doors on flanks of a 2+2 cockpit and all kinds of high-tech and sport-tuned hardware aboard to whip us dizzy in some serious pavement performance.

The new sports coupe sets the engine up front with all power directed to big back wheels in classic sporty arrangement with even distribution of the weight on front and rear wheels.

And it looks so cool, the exaggerated prow fixed with speed-strafed projector-type headlamps, fenders rippling around oversized rubber rollers, a broad windshield cocked back at an extreme angle and the low roofline tapering past a hatchback window to the curt tail scored by lamps drawn forward on corners in twin triangular streaks of red.

Then we're off, scooting down a narrow strip of blacktop that slithers through foothills of the Olympic Mountains lapping Puget Sound in the state of Washington.

In no time we've shifted through gears and run the speedo needle to the point of legal constraint.

Yet this thing begs for more.

It demands more pedal pushing, more revs for romping, and more notches to click by on the speedometer.

Too bad our coupe doesn't come with access to a private race track so we could send our speed-addicted selves into triple-digit nirvana.

That may be the only thing we miss when steering the new incarnation of Infiniti's G-car coupe.

Badged as the G37 Sport 6MT, our tester on the Washington curve course rides on a stiff rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform rigged with a taut suspension and strong torque developed through a revamped V6 out of Nissan's swift 350Z sports car.

Sensuous new body styling and a refined cockpit mark the G37 coupe of 2008, which trims out in three versions loaded with the seemingly incongruent combination of elegant cabin appointments and sport-tuned mechanical hardware.

The G37 name badge is similar to Infiniti's G35 four-door sedan, with the difference in the trailing digit marking a little more displacement of the engine -- 3.7 liters for G37 coupe vs. 3.5 liters for G35 sedan.

That's also the powertrain and platform -- called FM, for Front Midship, which describes the motor's position on the chassis -- for Nissan's no-nonsense 350Z fastback sports coupe which looks similar to the G37 coupe.

Compared to the original G35 coupe, which popped out in 2003, the G37 of 2008 measures identical in wheelbase yet the body of new one runs about five inches longer.

The sleek skin -- windswept lines featuring an aggressive zero-lift front end with muscular shoulders and flat flanks chiseled from painted sheetmetal and sparkling chrome -- conveys an image of strength and power and speed, and the car's stylists in Japan confess that inspiration for those sharp horizontal slats in the wide-mouthed front grille came from the keen-edged swords of samurai warriors.

Front corners are pegged in L-shaped compound headlight clusters with bi-xenon high intensity discharge (HID) lamps as stock, plus the optional adaptive front lighting system (AFS) where swivel lamps -- linked to the angle of the steering wheel -- rotate during turning maneuvers to keep a light shining on the car's forward path.

On the platform the front wheels set way forward and the engine is positioned so that its center of gravity falls behind the front axles. This placement results in a weight distribution biased slightly in favor of front wheels.

Yet the front wheels are slightly heavier by design of the suspension geometry to pre-load them with more weight when the car turns into a curve. Add acceleration coming out of that curve and the result translates into optimum weight balance which enables the aggressive driver to carve one corner after another in the G37 with keen confidence.

The suspension is totally independent with lightweight aluminum components. Up front is a double wishbone design and the back is a multi-link arrangement with stabilizer bars fore and aft. And to hone the handling of G37, Infiniti lists the option of a new computer-controlled Four-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS) system.

Steering, through a quick-to-respond rack and pinion mechanism, feels firm despite the assist from a vehicle-speed-sensitive power boost.

A vented disc brake stands at every wheel and all tie by computerized links to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Further, all G-coupes carry Infiniti's vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device which automatically checks lateral skidding on slippery pavement.

Motivation for G37 stems from an upgraded edition of Nissan's VQ-series dual-cam V6 keyed to an electronically controlled drive-by-wire throttle. The plant uses ladder-frame construction for rigidity with molybdenum-coated pistons, symmetric twin air intake system and a taller rev limit (7600 rpm). It also gets a new valve controller -- VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift).

These modifications produce more muscle, of course, as the VQ37VHR V6 spits out 330 hp at 7000 rpm with torque rising to 270 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.

G37 supports two transmissions, a five-speed electronic automatic with manual shift mode (via paddle shifters on the steering wheel for the Sport model), or a six-speed close-ratio manual stick planted on the center console.

Two of the three versions stock the automatic shifter. The pair is labeled as a leather-lined base edition G37 and the G37 Journey with automatic climate controls and upgraded luxury equipment.

A sole manual-shift model goes as the G37 Sport 6MT.

G37's cabin, with form-fitting seats and lots of electronic gizmos, is an artful design trimming in leather with aluminum accents textured to resemble handmade Japanese washi paper. Real African rosewood is another trim choice.

Options on G37 include the 11-speaker Infiniti "Studio on Wheels" by Bose audio system paired with a 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, packages of premium equipment, a sunroof, RearView Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) with Preview Braking, satellite radio service and a touchscreen navigation system.

Infiniti structures the price chart for a new G37 coupe upward from the entry MSRP of $34,250.

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2008, Infiniti G37

2008 Infiniti G37 front
2008 Infiniti G37 front
2008 Infiniti G37 wheel
2008 Infiniti G37 wheel
2008 Infiniti G37 grill
2008 Infiniti G37 grill
2008 Infiniti G37 interior
2008 Infiniti G37 interior